Busy education agenda

The incoming Labour led Government is promising big changes in education, with some measures requiring urgency so things are in place for the start of the tertiary year next February.

Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has some challenges putting everything into place. Of particular urgency is making the first year of tertiary education free next year.

Already contentious is his handling of Partnership Schools, which he has promised to scrap, but Labour Maori MPs in particular will have some concerns about how this is done.

NZH: Government fast-tracking its free tertiary education campaign promise

New tertiary education students wishing to have one year of free education are being encouraged to apply by December 16.

The Government is fast-tracking its tertiary education campaign promises, with the Cabinet now in the detailed planning stage to introduce one year of free tertiary education for new students, and a $50 weekly boost to the student allowance as well as a $50 weekly boost in student loans for living costs.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the policies will come into force by January 1 next year.

“Prospective students and tertiary education organisations should continue to make arrangements for study and enrolments for next year as they normally would. This includes starting, or continuing, any applications for study and/or for student loans or allowances,” Hipkins said.

The fees-free policy will apply to new university students, as well as apprenticeships, industry training and polytechnic students – anyone who has not previously studied at tertiary level.

There isn’t much time to do this. Parliament will sit nearly until Christmas to try to get this and a number of other urgent measures legislated for.

Stuff: Education minister’s shakeup will scrap National Standards and review NCEA

The Labour-led government is hitting the ground running on a number of promises, including making the first year of tertiary education or training free from January 1 next year.

In addition, student allowances and living cost loans will increase by $50 a week as well.

There’s nowhere near enough time between now and the festive season to completely remodel the tertiary funding system, which is why newly appointed Education Minister Chris Hipkins has had to sit down with officials this week to work out an interim solution.

Next year a longer-term redesign of the model will be done to ensure Labour meets its promise of three free years of tertiary study by 2024.

While recruiting enough staff seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for Labour at the moment, there’s plenty of work already under way in the ministries to ensure Labour can fulfil its commitments.

Labour have predicted a 15% increase in enrolments. While this may not all be straight away it must make planning difficult for tertiary providers.

National Standards to be scrapped:

Labour policy already plans to reduce teachers’ workload, such as through its scrapping of National Standards, and increase professional development and resolve retention issues.

Hipkins is clear he doesn’t want to leave a hole and there has to be a transition process for teachers, parents and students.

Ultimately it will mean a lighter workload for teachers and more time to teach. There’ll be less assessment, but Hipkins insists the quality of it will be better.

NCEA reassessed:

NCEA isn’t on the cards to be scrapped but it will undergo a full review on Hipkins’ watch. After 15 years it needs to continue to evolve, he says.

At the same time teachers needed to be trusted more and just because something wasn’t being assessed didn’t mean it wasn’t happening.

There’s a real “paradigm shift” needed as part of the NCEA review and that means moving how students and teachers think about NCEA, which is currently credits and subjects, to what employers care about – that’s skills.

One contentious issue is Partnership Schools:

And all those teachers outraged by the introduction of charter schools under a confidence and supply agreement between National and ACT, can sleep easy knowing there won’t be any more new doors opening, with the exception possibly of the two due to open next year.

As for the four scheduled for 2019, Hipkins says he can say with some confidence they won’t go ahead. And he’s still in the process of working out how to bring the 10 already in operation into the mainstream fold.

Hipkins was very critical of the poor track record of the Whangaruru school in Northland and the millions of dollars invested in it that the ministry was unable to recoup from the school’s trust when then-Education Minister Hekia Parata shut it down.

He says if he can get the money back he will, he’s just not sure how realistic that is.

How will the state school system to address the bottom 20% of students who have been failing badly? Scrapping alternatives will put pressure on.

Current partnership schools plus contracts already signed for new ones need to be dealt with fairly, not just dealt to.

Newshub: Govt reviews signed charter school deals

The Government is reconsidering contracts for six new charter schools signed before the election.

New Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the National-led Government signed the contracts in the weeks before the election in breach of pre-election conventions.

“This was in clear contravention of pre-election protocols that prohibit one Government committing a future Government in the run-up to an election,” he said in a statement.

“I’ve asked for urgent advice on the status of those contracts and won’t be making any further comment on the matter until I’ve received it.”

All parties in the new Labour-led Government oppose charter schools and Mr Hipkins said anyone involved in establishing a school knew “a change of Government would mean change for them”.

But ACT leader David Seymour – who was responsible for charter schools before the election – said the new schools had already been budgeted for since mid-2016.

“All of that takes time, I don’t feel that the excuse frankly that he’s trying to make cuts water,” he said.

National’s education spokeswoman, Nikki Kaye, said clarity was needed from the Government about what would happen.

“These sponsors have spent time and money securing contracts with the Crown and preparing to open these schools. They deserve better than this,” she said.

Earlier this week Mr Hipkins indicated all existing charter schools would also be reviewed individually to see if they can be integrated into the rest of the education system, or whether they would be shut.

Hipkins will be very busy trying to deal with all of this. He has the advantage of having teacher groups on his side – some say he is on their side – but with such an ambitious programme of significant change it will be difficult to manage without making a mess of something.

In his haste to delver for teachers Hipkins should remember the key thing in education, the kids. Especially the kids who have long been failed by the teacher dominated state system. Hipkins risks leaving big cracks for them to fall through.

More from Stuff:  Labour’s axe hovers over new partnership schools

The new minister of education is under fire from his predecessor after reports of contracts being cancelled for the country’s four new partnership schools.

Chris Hipkins last night said Labour, NZ First and the Greens had campaigned to scrap the charter school model and they intended to honour that commitment.

Hipkins said he had asked for urgent advice on the status of the four contracts. He understood the National/ACT government signed contracts with six new charter school operators in the weeks leading up to the election.

The four new schools due to open in 2019 included an Auckland school focused on science, technology, engineering and maths and a new Vanguard school in Christchurch.

 

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3 Comments

  1. David

     /  November 6, 2017

    The teachers union will never be happy and they will be expecting their pet Hipkins to deliver hugely for them including a big pay raise.
    I found the NCEA system just too complicated, National Standards should be kept and they have widespread parental support and with Charter schools I am a huge fan (alongside Willie Jackson, Kelvin Davis and 2 of the other South Auckland Mp,s) and bitterly dissapointed that National were so slow and cautious implementing more of them which is going to allow their removal.

  2. Corky

     /  November 6, 2017

    ”In his haste to deliver for teachers Hipkins should remember the key thing in education, the kids.”

    Phil Twyford, housing minister, put things in perspective during an interview He said:
    ”we are going to intervene in the market.”

    The word ‘intervene” is the touchstone for this Labour government. Casualties aren’t important, ideology is.